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Removing Ads and improved SEO ?

     
3:04 am on Jun 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Was wondering what the general consensus is on removing all ads from a site and seeing how significantly it helps SEO.

Have others tried it, and for how long ? I would think 6 weeks should be ample enough for results.

Doing a quick google search, I see this topic came up about a year ago -

[webmasterworld.com...]

the guy in the thread says his rank shot up significantly after removing ads.
7:42 am on July 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Looking back over our stats, I just discovered that we added ads to a large number of our pages the day AFTER Panda 1.0 (stroke of brilliance right there!) We were not affected by Panda 1.0. We were however affected by Panda 2.0. Although it was only one ad on the page, my theory is that these ads often appeared on pages with quite thin content (ie just one result). Maybe that thin content was considered ok without ads. But with an ad, not so good..

But ouch, if those ads we added were to blame, that's a seriously hefty price we've paid for adding Adsense. I've cleaned it up now so ads don't show unless there's a bunch of results and also ensured that the thin content won't be indexed. Here's hoping it helps.
12:43 pm on July 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@rango,

Where was the ad placed and how big is it?

Although it was only one ad on the page, my theory is that these ads often appeared on pages with quite thin content (ie just one result).


Can you please tell me what you mean by just one result? I understand what you mean by thin content, but I am not sure what just one result means.

Thanks.
9:01 pm on July 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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These are [very local] listings. Many small towns only have one option. The ad was a 300x250 block off to the right. So it has three ads inside it.

Later in 2011 we even added more ads (trying to offset some panda losses). These were at the end of results (and formatted similarly). Fine when there's ten, but when there's only one it meant one result + one ad. Plus the ad on the right. Definitely the balance of the page was more ads than not. And there are actually quite lot of little towns with only one property so the percentage of pages with thin / ad filled content did not look good. Or so my theory goes at least.

[edited by: tedster at 9:56 pm (utc) on Jul 9, 2012]

5:24 pm on July 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Well I have some news to report that may help some people.

About 10 days ago I removed a single large block of adsense from one of my sites. It was one of the large square blocks, placed atop the content, front and center. The site has been struggling quite a bit for some time, though I didn't know why.

It's a quality site and has had great rankings in the past. I haven't changed anything on the site in at least 6 months. 10 days after removing the ads, I got all my previous rankings back. My traffic has tripled ( from 500 uniques per day to 1500). It's conclusive to me that ads can definitely hurt you, and very badly.
7:04 pm on July 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

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If this is a true cause and effect and not just an unrelated timing thing, it would be the other direction of some of the long standing conspiracy theories about Adsense.
7:21 pm on July 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Conroy...can you provide by chance a rough date of when your site initially dipped in the rankings?
7:37 pm on July 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Over a year ago but it did not coincide with any panda date. The site actually went up after panda. Nothing changed with the announcement of the above the fold ad penalty from earlier this year though. It's hard to be 100% sure about all these things but all I know is I removed the ad and it's the only change I made.

Just some info for people that it's worth trying removing all above the fold ads and see what happens.
7:59 pm on July 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@conroy,

Did you have an ad at the top on one page or an ad at the top on all of your pages?

Also, on the pages that you removed the ad at the top, do you have Adsense on another area of the page?

Thanks.
8:23 pm on July 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Gouri,

The ad was at the top of all pages. That was the only block of adsense on all the pages. So when it was removed, adsense was no longer on the site at all.

Affiliate links that are throughout the articles (including some banner affiliate links at the very bottom of the pages) remained in place.
9:01 pm on July 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@conroy,

Thanks for the informative response.

When the ad was above the content, could you see text above the fold?
11:09 pm on July 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@conroy, how much other content was there on those pages, above the fold?

Was it always ample, or were there ever pages where you could eyeball it and say.. "that's just all ad and template"
1:42 am on July 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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gouri and rango -

You could see about a paragraph of text above the fold. However, based on "quality" or whatever, it was clearly ad focused. You did pretty much have to scroll to start reading. The top logo is somewhat tall in my opinion which possibly did not help - at 160 pixels tall.

The site has a pretty good layout and design and content - people definitely read it, average visitor time on almost all pages is 4-6 minutes.
1:22 pm on Aug 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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10 days after removing the ads, I got all my previous rankings back.


@conroy,

After you removed the ads, do you know what percentage of your pages were recrawled when your rankings returned? Or were all of them recrawled?
1:49 pm on Aug 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I assume that there's an indirect correlation between #of ads and ranking.
When removing ads, site speed increases.
A speedy site makes the visitors happier and they tend to stay longer and navigate more on the site.
Time on site and page/visit are direct signals to ranking - These are the factors that may impact site's ranking.
2:34 am on Aug 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Gouri, I see no change in crawl data around the time rankings returned. I'm not really sure the answer.

What I do know now is that I put the ads back up on the site about 10 days after rankings returned. I just went back to "panda" levels over the past 2 days. So I'm down about 66% in traffic. I've removed the ads again and I will update if and when I recover again.
2:58 am on Aug 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@conroy,

Thanks for the response and I would appreciate if you can update.
12:47 am on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Gouri,

The site just came back to the exact same rankings as before. About 20 days since it was previously dropped in rankings. All I did was remove Adsense.

I got an email a week ago from google telling me to put an ad in that spot again too!
3:09 am on Aug 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@conroy,

Good to hear.

Thanks for updating.
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